nesting? perhaps.

I left work at 1:30 today to come home and take a nap, which I did…for 2 hours! My mom has my son today, so I thought I would take advantage of a little “me” time before this baby gets here. It’s decided to incubate at least till its due date (tomorrow) and I’d been wanting to bake up some zucchini bread since the garden is being generous.

First, I made a blackberry peach cobbler that I’d made last year. Then, I made a double batch of zucchini bread. Next, I cleaned up the house and lastly, finished packing my hospital bag. I’m getting ready to light into dinner for my husband and me. I hope he’s as tickled as I am when he gets home to a clean house and the smell of fresh baked goodies! I think this might be my sudden burst of energy that folks talk about before you go into labor. Who the heck knows? I thought I’d have this baby by now! 🙂

I had forgotten about something my son said this morning. He got up early (around 5:45 am) and came to get in bed with me (his daddy was already gone to work). He had been laying there a few minutes when he took out his paci (still trying to kick that habit) and said “I like you.” Now, doesn’t that mean the world to a mommy? It sure did to me.

Enjoy some photos of what I was up to this evening and a visit to a friend’s house the other day.

a few new recipes

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve found myself cooking here and there. I figure I better do it while I have some energy before this baby arrives. Here’s what I’ve been up to…

Whole Wheat Blackberry Muffins – I ended up using these giant blackberries I had and they turned out so good. I didn’t have any vanilla on hand that day, so I used vanilla yogurt and that worked fine.

Blueberry Zucchini Bread – I made this Saturday and it was so yummy! I told my son it was “cake” and let him eat some for breakfast. 🙂 My husband even liked it. This recipe made one regular loaf plus one mini loaf (I didn’t have 4 mini loaf pans). Oh, and I used wheat flour instead of white.

Spinach Stuff Chicken Breasts – These I made for dinner Monday night and the husband was thrilled! I used thighs because they are cheaper and I like them better. I also used cream cheese instead of feta and I added sun dried tomatoes as well. Very yummy.

Zucchini Gratin – This was a side dish I made Monday. I loved it. I didn’t measure my ingredients, so I went a little heavy on the bread crumb topping, but next time I’ll know better. Had a great flavor!

I’m so glad I’ve developed a love for cooking. The great thing about summer is that you don’t have to “cook” much. I think tonight, I might try these zucchini noodles if I have some ripe ones in the garden.

Thought I would share this photo my mom got yesterday. I’m pretty pregnant, huh? 🙂

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how i eat

I went through the drive through this morning and got a bacon egg and cheese biscuit for my “second breakfast” (my first breakfast was about 5:30 am and I was hungry). This was due to lack of planning on my part, which is always when I seem to have issues eating well. While I was munching on my biscuit, I thought I might like to share how (or maybe “what”) I eat.

Honestly, I feel like I eat well 80% of the time. I try to eat fresh veggies and other healthful foods most of the time, but there are occasions when I fail to plan and I end up eating something I’m not too happy about. I have found that if I keep healthy snacks on hand (fruit, nuts, yogurt, etc.) then I don’t eat much vending machine stuff or fast food. Also, I have to plan the day before what I’m going to eat for lunch (when I’m working) or I can get myself into trouble.

As a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, it’s important for me to maintain my weight and live a healthy lifestyle. Plus, I just like it and I feel better when I do. I’m also trying to set a good example for my son (and future child).

Here’s a sample of what my meals may consist of when I’m behaving myself…

Breakfasts:

  • Burrito – scrambled eggs, salsa, dollop sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado
  • English muffin with egg & cheese
  • Yogurt with blueberries, strawberries, and granola
  • Scrambled or fried (olive oil) eggs with toast

Lunch:

  • Supper leftovers (most common)
  • Salad (I normally grab a bag of the Very Veggie or Romaine mix then dress it up with whatever I have – sometimes just olives, cheese, and oil & vinegar)
  • Homemade sandwich from this local Amish bread store (using their wheat bread – yum!)
  • Can of Progresso soup (one of the vegetable kinds like Minestrone)

Supper

  • Last night it was yellow eyed beans (cooked in the crock pot with olive oil), corn on the cob, watermelon, and macaroni & cheese
  • Simple spaghetti (wheat pasta & a jar of Bertoli or Classico sauce) with a veggie or salad
  • One of the other recipes I’ve posted about in the past

Snacks

  • Apple (my favorites are Pink Lady and Honeycrisp) and yogurt
  • Yogurt, fruit, and granola
  • Almonds

Like I said, I feel like I do well 80% of the time. Here’s what the other 20% may consist of…

Breakfast

  • Cinnamon rolls (from a can) with eggs and maybe bacon/sausage
  • Pancakes (I try to make mine from scratch now so they’re not full of preservatives) with eggs and maybe bacon/sausage
  • Breakfast pizza
  • French toast with eggs and maybe bacon/sausage

Lunch

  • Pizza (I absolutely LOVE plain old cheese pizza!)
  • BBQ sandwich and fries from the drive through
  • Hot ham and cheese from Hardee’s

Supper

  • Tombstone cheese pizza & fries
  • Stuffed manicotti (I may actually make this tonight…)
  • Take out pizza
  • Sloppy Joe and fries

Snacks

  • “Nabs” (crackers) from the vending machine
  • Snickers or Milky Way
  • Ice cream (this has been my weakness during this pregnancy)

I really try to limit the junk, but I’m human!

From my experience, these are the things that help me eat my best:

  • Take some time before you head to the grocery store and pick a few healthy recipes for the week. They don’t have to be new, but allrecipes.com is a great source!
  • Make a grocery list and stick to it. Also, try to avoid the middle isles of the grocery store where most of the packaged/processed products are.
  • Start in the produce section and try to fill your cart at least 1/4 to 1/2 full of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Don’t grocery shop when you are hungry…ever! Always eat a snack before you enter the store.
  • Buy organic or local when you can…it can be expensive, but it can be more economical than you would expect.
  • PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! Try to think a day ahead of what you’re going to eat the next day. Or at least a meal ahead so you can prepare.
  • If you work, pack your food the day before or take a week’s worth of snacks to work with you if you have a fridge. Then, you won’t be tempted by things you’re not supposed to have!
  • Watch the weight scales or your clothes for signs that you’re veering off track.
  • Keep a food journal and write down what you honestly consume in a day. There are lots of great apps for smart phones that make this easier.
  • Grow a garden and/or visit the local farmer’s market.

Some final closing thoughts today that were forwarded to me via email just this morning…

  • Researchers estimate that every day 16,000 to 24,000 children die from hunger related causes. In 2004 almost one billion people lived below the international poverty line, earning less than one dollar per day. These impoverished people struggle daily with malnourishment and hunger, and the majority live in what has been called the “developing” world. This developing world has six times the population as the 57 or so countries that comprise the “developed” world.(1)
  • In the United States, by contrast, over two-thirds of the population are overweight and almost one-third is considered obese according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for the years 2001-2004.(2)  In fact, the Centers for Disease Control shows a steady increase in the number of obese persons in the United States in their data compiled from 1985-2006.(3) Living with an over-abundance, we are barraged by diet fads and quick-fix strategies to shed extra pounds. Despite all the effort to promote healthy eating and lifestyles, the fact remains that in 22 different states 25 to 30 percent of the populations are considered obese.(4)

(1) Statistics from Bread for the World, http://www.bread.org and the World Food Programme http://www.wfp.org.
(2) Statistics from the Weight Control Information Network http://www.niddk.nih.gov.
(3) Centers for Disease Control, http://www.cdc.gov.
(4) Ibid.

After I read the email, it really made me think (again) how blessed I am. I thank God before each meal for the food He has provided. That’s another healthy habit – being grateful for your food!

squash blossoms & new recipes to try

My garden is coming along so well! I told my dad I had blooming squash or cucumbers (I didn’t label what I planted like a good gardener would), so he told me a yellow-orange blossom is probably squash. I couldn’t remember which was in that row (yellow or zucchini), but he told me to look behind the blossom and I should see the squash. Isn’t he a smart man? It’s my very first ever zucchini from my very first ever garden!!!

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Right now, it’s only about 3 or 4 inches long, but I bet it will be ripe for the picking in no time. I’m kind of excited about having a bunch of zucchini because I like to eat it. Plus, I found a neat Blueberry Zucchini Bread recipe I’d like to try.

Check out the other things I have coming up in my garden…

Sunflowers, butternut squash, and yellow squash

Sunflowers, butternut squash, and yellow squash

Tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers.

Tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers.

Romaine lettuce

Romaine lettuce

Purple potatoes (I mean, purple through and through!)

Purple potatoes (I mean, purple through and through!)

Not pictured: watermelon and cantaloupe, but they’re still pretty small.

I have been on a kick trying new recipes and thought I would share a few with you:

  • Overnight Blueberry French Toast – made this for my Father’s Day breakfast in addition to the breakfast pizza I’ve made before. It was delicious! I made 1/2 the recipe and we had enough to eat again this morning.
  • Lemon Lime Avocado Pie – this was the easiest, coolest recipe! You just put all the stuff in the blender and then pour in a graham cracker pie crust. I thought it was very tasty and I felt less guilty for eating it thanks to the avocado! And it’s GREEN, let me tell you. It would be perfect for St. Patty’s Day. I finished it off today and it wasn’t as bright green, but it wasn’t brown either.
  • Quinoa Salad – I made this for my mom today when she came out to visit. She’s somewhat vegan and we both really liked it. This recipe isn’t the exact same as what I used, but I can’t find the one I had online. My version just has quinoa, cherry tomatoes, corn, edamame, lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

I had planned to make up my freezer meals today for when baby arrives, but I’m going to take a little nap first (while the toddler naps). If the feeling hits, I’ll get to it in a little bit. I bought all the stuff Saturday, so I really need to get with it, huh?

Before I go, I must share a beautiful shot of my  husband and son from Father’s Day. The both looked so handsome ready for church and I caught this picture while they were walking through the yard going to the car. My son had picked some weed and was telling his dad all about it. I love these two fellows so much!

My husband and his "mini me". Cute plaid outfit courtesy of my sister Rachel.

My husband and his “mini me”. Cute plaid outfit courtesy of my sister Rachel.

our golden corral experience

I’m sitting on my couch at 1:30 am blogging while the darn cat that woke me up an hour ago is snoozing beside me. Since I can’t sleep, I thought I’d blog about our Golden Corral dining experience this evening. I can hear my cousin Jennifer laughing as she reads this – she has two kids and has surely gone through something like this in her past. This one’s for you, Jen!

Golden-Corral

Earlier this week, my wonderful husband (Happy Father’s Day!) saw a commercial about endless ribs at Golden Corral on television. Ever since, he’s been harassing me about going to eat there. It finally happened yesterday evening. It had been a busy day and I told him we could do whatever he wanted for dinner. Right before we left, he tried to change plans and stick around the house to go fishing or just play outside, but I insisted that we go ahead and go since he’s been thinking about it all week.

The parking lot was full when we pulled in and there was a cloud of smoke around the front entrance from all the nicotine dependent diners who aren’t allowed to smoke inside (thank goodness). After making our way through the smoke, we stepped inside and I knew right then that this is not where we should be. Our son decided he wanted to stop and play with the little retractable strap that blocks off the maze leading up to the register. My husband’s comment: “You have to pay before you eat?” It’s been a long time since we’ve been to a place that doesn’t come to your table to take your order. Either way, we should have turned around and left when the total for two adult buffets (kids under 3 eat FREE!) was $30. I could see the look on my sidekick’s face…we were both thinking “We could have had Ruby Tuesday for $40!” But, we didn’t leave – we just took our tray and shuffled to a table, wiggling our way through the swarm of hungry folks.

I went to the buffet first, fixing our son a plate of strawberries, carrots, pizza, and macaroni & cheese. The sheer amount of people waiting to fix their plates was incredible. When I got back to the table, I told my husband to go on and get his food. I explained how there were two stations where you could pick up plates, etc. My son actually started eating his strawberries after he successfully pulled all the green tops off of them. I thought, “This might not turn out so bad after all.” Heh.

Husband comes back with a plateful of buffet food and I head to get my own. By the time I get back, our son is in a different chair and my husband is trying to get him to eat. Dining out with a two-year-old is a job (can I get an amen?). I sit down and attempt to eat my food (black eyed peas, pinto beans, mac and cheese, carrots, meatloaf, green beans, Mexican corn bread…yum) when our son decides he wants to go back and forth under the table. The objects on the table are amazing to him – the salt shaker, hot sauce, steak sauce, milk cup, etc. I’m eating with my left hand and telling him “You need to sit still and eat. Eat your strawberries. Eat a bite of pizza.” Of course, I had to throw in “If you sit still and eat your food, you can have an ice cream cone.” That worked for about 30 seconds.

My dear partner goes back for a bit more food and I know we’re in trouble when I see him stop at the dessert bar. I meant to tell him not to bring anything sweet to the table until after our son finished his food. I knew what it would be. The dessert? A pretty piece of chocolate cake.

After about two minutes at the table, our son finally sees the cake.

“I want cake,” he says.

“You can’t have cake until after you eat your strawberries and pizza,” I quickly reply.

Then, it’s the classic game of keep away. He crawls under the table to his dad’s side, and I put the cake on my side. Then, he crawls to my side and I put the cake on dad’s side of the table. After about 5 rounds of this, Husband says, “Can we just go?” I’ve been ready since we got there.

Son is not happy that we’re leaving without the cake and of course, I try to reason with a two year old why you can’t have cake until after you eat your “real food”. For the first several minutes in the car (Husband decides we need to immediately come home and I don’t argue), it’s an awful silence. Then, son starts saying, “Where dat cake?” repeatedly. Finally, we can’t do anything but laugh about it. If you don’t laugh, sometimes you think you might go berzerk. Husband remarks how the experience was something like the Griswalds and Duck Dynasty.

After we went to bed, my husband and I laughed and talked about being parents. We questioned if we’re doing something wrong by expecting our son to understand he has to eat his dinner before he gets dessert. We laughed about how redneck Golden Corral is and how we’ll never step foot in one again. We talked about how freaking expensive it was to eat there and how we could have gone to tons of other places with better food and atmosphere. I remarked about how quickly these toddler years will be over and how we’re going to miss these crazy things.

With all this being said, I must end on a positive note, because this blog is “Because Nice Matters”, of course. I thought about the “bright side” of the situation and here’s what I came up with:

  • We made it to and from the restaurant safe and sound.
  • I’m thankful we actually make enough money to go out to eat on a fairly regular basis (once a week or so).
  • None of us have experienced food poisoning from the buffet (yet).
  • Looking back, we can laugh about it.

It’s nearly 2 am and we’re having the in laws up for Father’s Day breakfast. I need to get my booty in the bed so I can be a good hostess and make it through the day. First, I must have a snack, though. My $15 buffet meal has worn off…

purple and teal open house baby shower

My families threw us a baby shower on Saturday and boy, do I feel blessed! It never ceases to amaze me the generosity of friends, family, and church members when there’s a wedding or new baby. They just give, give, give! We got so many nice things, including lots of diapers and wipes which we asked for. Like with our first baby, we’ve decided not to find out the gender until the baby arrives in mid-July, but we still got lots of girl stuff. There are lots of folks hoping this second child is a girl…

I had seen an article in Southern Living Magazine about a purple and teal party and fell in love, so that was our theme. I wanted to have the shower at our new house since we’ve only been here about 3 months and not many people have had a chance to come see it. My mom made a cake and my mother in law had special little chocolates made. Then, the best part of all is my sister from Tennessee showed up and surprised us! Well, I say “surprised.” It was strange, because the day before the shower, I had this gut feeling that she was going to be there for some reason. She’s a terrible sneak and never gets away with anything. 🙂

When you’re showered with love and gifts like we were on Saturday, you just scratch your head and wonder what in the world you did to deserve so many blessings. I still don’t feel like we deserve anything good we get, but I’m terribly happy that so many people love and care for us.

Enjoy some pictures from the party!

17 pounds in 27 weeks

As far as I can tell, I’ve gained about 17 pounds in my 27 weeks of pregnancy (soon to be 28 weeks). I’m pretty happy with that. My goal was to keep it 25 or less for the entire pregnancy, but I’m going to allow myself up to 30 pounds. Last time, I gained 40-45, which pushed me over 200 pounds and I think that was a little too much. My goal is to keep it under 185 this time around and hopefully I can get back to 150 or less by the end of the year.

But, I’m not hung up on the weight part…I’m eating well and working out hard (but not too hard). A friend sent me a link to a story about folks giving this woman (a personal trainer) a hard time about working out during pregnancy. I’ve had so many people say, “I thought you weren’t supposed to exercise during pregnancy.” which is a total misconception. If you’ve been working out before you got pregnant, most doctor’s say to keep going with what you were doing, unless you just can’t keep a conversation while you’re doing it. Disclaimer: pregnant ladies, consult your doctors! Thankfully, most folks I’ve come in contact with are very encouraging and make me feel like Wonder Woman. They say things like, “I can’t believe your teaching this class as pregnant as you are! You kick my butt!” It makes me feel really good. I’ve had people tell me the baby is going to come out holding a barbell and that makes me laugh.

I’m still teaching spin class on Tuesday morning, then my morning mix class on Wednesday morning, and BodyPump on Thursday morning. That leaves me Friday to swim and I normally take it easy on the weekends, just chasing the 2 year old around. I like to get outside and take walks when I can, so I’m active most days of the week. I really need to start integrating more yoga now that my belly is growing. I have two great DVDs that allow me to do that at home in just 30 minutes, which really helps. One thing I am missing is riding my bike…normally by now, I’d be riding a lot on the local trail and on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but I don’t trust myself not to wreck. So, I guess that will wait until September/October if all goes well.

During my first pregnancy, I found that I really liked yoga. Before that, I thought it was for sissies. But, it really helped me become more flexible and I feel it helped me prepare for natural child birth (I decided not to have an epidural).

I had my one hour glucose test for gestational diabetes on Monday and they said they would only call if it came back abnormal – it’s now Wednesday and I’ve not heard anything, so I hope I’m in the clear. I had the condition during my first pregnancy, but was able to control it with diet and exercise, but monitoring blood sugar levels is not convenient or fun. I’m hoping all this working out and eating better make a positive difference!

Speaking of weight, I’m hungry! Won’t be long before I can dig into my lunch – a good, healthy salad.  My biggest weakness has been sweets, which is a constant battle for me. So, I’ve given in to having ice cream/gelato almost on a daily basis. But, I keep the servings small and enjoy them instead of wolfing them down.